It seems like I’ve been in some kind of fight with my body for as long as I can remember. I’ve been on the edge of being overweight since high school – in spite of having an eating disorder for two third of my undergraduate degree – and I’m also hyperelastic, with ankles that roll at the drop of a hat.
I can and frequently do trip over absolutely nothing – in fact, I can’t actually remember the last time I tripped on something. It’s always just a smooth flat surface and then all of a sudden I’m face-planting.
I’ve got Ukrainian and Scottish heritage, which means I’ve got hairier legs than a lot of guys I know. Shaving lasts me about three hours, waxing gives me a week and a half, if I’m lucky. On top of that, some of the hair decided my face must be lonely, so I’ve been fighting with a mustache, sideburns, and a goatee since I was fifteen. On the plus side, I’m pretty damn good with a set of tweezers and those do-it-yourself wax kits.
On the negative side … I don’t really have to elaborate on the negative side, I guess, except to say that the whole positive-negative imagery makes it seem like maybe they should even each other out in the end, and if that’s the case, whoever’s in charge of my scale is definitely asleep on the job.
I could go on, and on (and on). I won’t, though, because this really isn’t about trying to feel sorry for myself; it’s the context for what comes next.
Three years ago, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism, both of which are topics I really ought to give their own entries. The short version, though, is that I found out that because of a hormonal imbalance my body can’t handle sugar very well. Eating sugar, it turns out, makes my body store more fat, and the more fat I have, the worse the imbalance gets, making me even WORSE at handling sugar, which makes me store even MORE fat … and a lot of artificial sweeteners do the same thing.
It explained why healthy diet and exercise didn’t help keep my weight stable; I was a huge fan of diet coke, which basically negated everything else I did by turning whatever I did eat into fat. My knees, which were already prone to buckling whenever they had a chance, have been having a harder and harder time as I’ve gained weight, and I tried to push through with running and martial arts anyway, because walking everywhere wasn’t helping me …
Well, it turns out the simplified version of the answer is: stop eating sugar.
I like sugar.
So for the last three years, I’ve tried to find the boundaries of the cheat zone: how much could I get away with? Could I have sugar in my coffee if I didn’t have dessert? Is a slice of gingerbread loaf really going to be the end of the world? Can Honey Nut Cheerios get an exemption, somehow?
The results have been predictable. I had some success, I had some failure, and the net result is that I’m in a worse position than I was three years ago with nothing to show for it but the knowledge that I should have known better.
I did know better, honestly, but I had a lot going on in my life, and pretending that I thought I could make it work was easier than having a long hard chat with myself.
Eventually, though, I had to suck it up. Untreated, PCOS increases the risk for a lot of things later in life, including heart disease and diabetes, and really increases the odds of having an early death.
I like living more than I like sugar.
SO, three days ago I gave up added sugar.
And because I was already turning my life upside down, I also started doing yoga, and learning how to mediate. I’ve tried doing both of those things before, with no success on either one of them, but that was when I was like 21, and I’ve come a long way since then.
You see a lot of stories about people who used to be out of shape or overweight or otherwise dissatisfied with themselves, but now they’re running marathons or contorting themselves into handstand-pretzels, and I’ll admit, I’m really hoping that I end up being one of those people. I’d love to end up with a better relationship with my body, not to mention having a healthier body to have a relationship with. I’m never really sure if I believe those people when they explain how far they’ve come, though – and even if I do, I’m not sure it does me any good. Just because they could overcome their inertia doesn’t mean I’ll get over mine …
If I do manage it, though, it occurred to me that it would be nice to be able to look back and have a record of how I got there. And maybe there are other people who are in the same boat I am, or at least in the same fleet. It’s a lot more fun doing things together than it is to go it alone.
And maybe, if it’s not hubris to say it, my story will be able to help somebody else down the line.
If I don’t manage it … well, at least I’ll have an interesting record of the failure!
Days without (added) sugar: 4
Current mood: I would literally kill something if it would get me a bowl of honey nut cheerios.